The BLM is taking public comments on two Travel Management Plans, (TMPs) and the Bears Ears draft Resource Management Plan (RMP), which you’ve already heard about. RAF Utah Liaison and UBCP board member Wendy Lessig has followed the progress of each and urges that your help is needed NOW to preserve many Utah backcountry airstrips. You’ll simply need to click each of the three links below and comment on EACH of the three plans.

The BLM needs to hear from us what the value and purpose of these airstrips is on public lands. Here are a few talking points that apply to all three BLM Plans. Comment in your own words, and share personal experience you’ve had.

  • Airstrips enable recreationists to enjoy hiking, fishing, camping, backpacking, hunting, and other activities in remote areas that require no road infrastructure;
  • The backcountry pilot community strongly subscribes to the “Tread Lightly” and “Leave No Trace” camping ethic;
  • Remote airstrips need little in the way of resources, and have been enjoyed quietly by many different users for over one hundred years.
  • Aviation has a very small environmental footprint, the lightest footprint form of access to these lands. 
  • Airstrips are valuable recreational assets that offer dispersed primitive camping.
  • Aircraft do not have driving wheels and once landed, do not go “off trail.”
  • Noise from aircraft is transient and of short duration.
  • Airstrips are situated on natural flat land features, with little occurrence of soil disturbance or erosion.
  • Airstrips provide vital access to aid Search and Rescue, emergency response, and firefighting.

For more information about BLM Travel Management click here. For more information about Planning and NEPA in the BLM click here.

When commenting, thank the BLM and indicate your support for designating routes for the following 12 airstrips in TMP preliminary routes: 

Angel Point – Route WYBD0099
Big Thompson Mesa – Route GAHM0442d
Cave Flat – Route GAHM0076
Eagle Benches North – Route GAHM0150
Gold Creek / Shootering – Route GAHM0373a
Middle Canyon – Route WYBD0037a
Neilson Wash – Route WYHM0063e
Point of Rocks – Route WYBD0172 and WYBD0169
Road Junction 95-276 – Route GAHM0248
Sams Mesa – Route WYBD0361
Starr Spring – GAHM0384a
Twin Corral Flats West – WYBD0350

We request that the following 18 airstrips be included in the Henry Mountains TMP, in this current TMP revision or as a follow-up NEPA action.

Select those you can speak personally about. 

Below Buckacre
Blackburn Draw
Bullfrog Creek
Burr Point
Butler Wash
Dirty Devil
Eagle City (Eagle Benches South)
Fiddler Butte
Halfway Bench
Hatch Canyon
Little Antelope Valley
Moqui Fork / Barrier Creek
Poison Spring
Robbers Roost Flats / Little Y
Simplot / Funky
South Hatch Canyon
Twin Corral Flats East
Willow Springs

We request that two airstrips in the Dolores area be included in the TMP to allow their continued recreational use:

Steamboat Mesa Airstrip has outstanding recreational value. It offers visitors a remote, wilderness type experience. It is an existing airstrip that has been in use for over 70 years. With increasing pressures on public lands, Steamboat Mesa offers dispersed primitive airplane camping, without the need for additional infrastructure.

Polar Mesa Mine Airstrip is in an area that is difficult to get to by land, but less than a half hour by air from Moab offers dispersed primitive camping and opportunities to hike to nearby waterfalls and panoramic overlooks.

No additional infrastructure is needed from the BLM for this airstrip. As is the case with these backcountry airstrips, pilot organizations volunteer their labor to keep the landing area safe for aircraft use.

It is essential that we submit positive, personal comments about preserving these recreational assets. Your voice counts!

Submitted May 31, 2024